The magnitude of my role as mother did not hit me until I was about 30 when my children were around the ages of 10 and 7. I remember having this moment when I realized that I had expectations of them that I hadn’t taught them. Up until this point, when attending an event where I had to introduce myself I would say, “I’m Julian and I am the single parent of 3 children.”
You see, at this time, this is how I identified myself. It was my identity and my existence and the reason that I introduced myself that way was because I was so bitter about it that I felt like I needed people to know that I was A SINGLE PARENT of 3 kids, so give me a break, be proud of me, understand my pain, etc. As I began to work on myself on the inside and pray to God about being a better mother, I realized that I needed to identify myself as he names that he called me, loved, chosen, my daughter, beloved, etc.
And it all started with one truth: There’s not a parent that I’ve ever encountered that hasn’t vented about the struggle of raising children. It hasn’t mattered if they were the single mom of one child or 3 children, married, divorced or widowed. They’ve all expressed the angst of the complete submission of self that it takes in order to raise and nurture children.
When I see young girls pregnant and having babies my heart weeps for the unknown sense that they have about how things will change. Like me, I believe that they did not know just how hard and how much support they would need when raising children. Then it’s like once you begin to have to miss work, or parties or school you begin to look at how the father’s life has not changed and then you become bitter. I’ve been there and that’s why I want to share with you what helped me move beyond the frustrations and focus on things that mattered in their lives.
- We have a responsibility to teach our children how to become who they are, not expect them to become who they are.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Start children off the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.”
I am honest enough to say that I spent the early years of my children’s life caught up in my own mess. I expected manners when I didn’t teach manners, I expected respect of others when I didn’t teach it, I respected sharing and kindness when I didn’t teach it. I expected them to know how to problem solve, clean up, etc when I had never actually taken the time out to teach them those things and boy am I paying for it now! Kids can learn all of the above things I just mentioned beginning as early as 2 years old. The time is now to invest in how you are shaping them as opposed to being frustrated about being the only one who seems to ‘care’ about them. We must realize that we have an earthly responsibility to teach our children how to live and behave in the world. It’s a hard job, we know this! No need to keep repeating that phrase every day. (Hugs)
- Mean what you say and say what you mean .
Proverbs 3:11-12 tells us, “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”
Discipline is hard but necessary! The more we give our children empty threats the more the realize that they don’t REALLY have to do what we’re asking them to do. I imagine as a heavenly father, it is often hard for the Lord to watch us suffer, but he has to stick with his word as he cannot tell a lie. And if he warns us not to steal and we do, we go to jail. It’s the consequence. So, we must realize the same thing, some things we have to allow our children to experience to get them to understand what a certain behaviors consequence is. As the parent to teens, I am realizing that while they were young was the time to follow through with consequences for their actions. The biggest reason I didn’t do it—It was an inconvenience. Rather explain to them why they are not allowed to watch tv, I let them watch it so that I can go do what I need to do. Now it takes me hours and my complete evenings (several days in a row) to get my children to see that I am serious. I know to a certain measure that you’ll still have trouble with teenagers, but I can testify that their behavior is better now that they know that I say what I mean and mean what I say.
- We have a responsibility to try to be amicable with the fathers.
Philipians 4:8 tells us “ Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things and the God of peace be with you”
Forgiveness is noble, right and true. At this point it really just is what it is. The child(ren) are here and there’s not much that can be done. However, we as mothers need to understand that there is something inside of all humans that want to be loved by their mothers and fathers. Children don’t really understand what it means to be absent. I may not always agree with or care about what my children’s fathers say, but I have LEARNED that I owe it to my children, to do the best that I could in connecting them with their father as much as possible, even if it’s an inconvenience for me. There’s a peace in my heart that I don’t have to raise my children to believe anything except good about their fathers. Then I ask my children to give them grace because at the end of the day—we all fall short in some area.
Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth”
Children are a blessing. I believe that once I started viewing them that way life became a little bit easier. Once I began thinking about the way that God was careful to create me and create a way to procreate children I realized that despite the way that they came into the world, that my children were indeed a blessing.
We are what we identify ourselves as. If you identify yourself as a single mom, then you are leaving out , educator, doctor, leader, best friend etc. all of the other roles that you have as their mother. We are not merely single mothers, but we are MOTHERS and we are strong, resilient, compassionate and we are WISE. I literally have conversations with people now and don’t even mention my children. Why? Because I am Julian, a writer, a teacher, a friend, a lover of Christ. I am funny, smart and a joy to be around. And this is how I choose to show up to the world.
The father of the universe says that I belong to HIM and that in HIM I can do ALL things. I believe I can mother, without the benefit of a partner right now, and that not dominate who I am. I can believe that this factor of my identity, will not determine how I view the world or myself.
I want to encourage you to believe that you have what It takes, not because you can hustle or you’re going to prove something to HIM, but because you know who Is on your side, willing to give you wisdom and insight as well as send you people to help you out and pour into your life.
I’m rooting for ya’ll,